1. ITV Report

Over a third of children in England overweight

Researchers said the rising childhood obesity trend may be starting to level off. Credit: PA Wire

More than a third of children in England are considered overweight or obese, a new 20-year study suggests.

Although researchers say the rising problem may be starting to level off in younger children, there is still real concern for the 11-15 age group, with a quarter of teenagers being obese by the age of 15.

Rupert Evelyn reports from a school in Bristol.

The study, published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that

of boys aged 11-15 considered overweight or obese
of girls aged 11-15 considered overweight or obese

Figures also showed that between 1994 and 2003 the number of children considered overweight and obese increased by just over 8% each year. But the rate slowed substantially between 2004 and 2013 to 0.4% a year.

Researchers assessed the electronic health records of more than 370,500 children, aged two to 15, to monitor the trends over 20 years.

Trends were said to be similar for boys and girls but differed by age groups.

Dr Cornelia van Jaarsveld, lead researcher of the study, King's College London, said there were "several possible theories" for the "recent stabilisation of childhood overweight and obesity rates".

She said public health campaigns may have started to work.

Another explanation could be that obesity rates have reached a "point of saturation".